August 5, 2015
Now by chance a priest was going down the road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. Luke 10:31-33
Some people enjoy Jesus' parable about the Good Samaritan. There are others who might find the Lord's story is a bit too close for comfort.
Case in point: an elderly woman who was trapped in her burning car at a Chevron station in Portland, Oregon. The station had any number of people there, but those people -- like the priest and the Levite in Jesus' illustration -- decided to remain uninvolved and pass by on the other side.
No, that's not exactly right. Passing by would have been better than what they were doing.
These people -- there were six of them -- were using their cell phones and taking movies of the fire, the car, and the imminent demise of the little old lady. In contrast to them was good-deed doer, 19-year-old Philippe Bittar. This young Good Samaritan took a look at the situation and made a snap decision. He said, "I wasn't really thinking, I just saw her and knew I had to get her out of there before it gets worse." Bittar, who was a high school linebacker, used his fist and smashed the window with a single punch.
He reached in and pulled the lady to safety.
No sooner was the lady out of the car then the flames began shooting out of the car's front seat. The woman was taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation, and Bittar was treated on the scene for cuts to his hand.
And so things ended happily ever after.
Well, not really. You see, out in Ohio, another man also decided to videotape rather than help two teenagers who were severely injured in a car accident. Rather than providing assistance to the young adults, one of whom died at the scene, the man captured the tragedy on film.
And then he tried to sell the footage to a local television channel.
It is my hope these video-tapers weren't Christians. You see, we are incredibly blessed people. We are blessed because we have a Savior who taught us how to love. Even though the world didn't want Him and didn't accept Him, Jesus came into this world to rescue us. Here He gave His life so that all who are brought to Holy Spirit-given faith are cleansed of their sins and granted a place in the Father's family of life.
In response to the Savior's loving sacrifice, believers are given the opportunity to love their neighbors, which includes the folks who live next door and little old ladies in burning cars and teenagers who had an accident.
As the Bible says, "We love because He first loved us" (1 John 4:19).
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, help me honor You by being a Good Samaritan rather than a bad spectator. This I ask in the Savior's Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries